Nelson To Provide 60th Vote For Senate Health Bill

This morning, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) held a press conference to announce that he would provide the 60th vote for cloture on the Senate bill with the manager’s amendment.” Nelson praised the Obama administration and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) for addressing his concerns but warned his colleagues, “I reserve the right to vote against cloture vote if there are material changes to this agreement in the conference report. ”

Abortion and Medicaid expansion may have been the largest sticking points to winning over Nelson’s votes, but Nelson dodged a question about the extra Medicaid matching funds for his state and instead highlighted the amendment’s changes to flexible savings accounts (FSA), rural hospitals, and a new report that would study successful malpractice reforms “to find out more information out about it,” Nelson said.

The abortion language — which allows states to prohibit abortion in their exchanges and requires strict segregation of private and public funds — may be the most significant alteration. In the video below, Nelson lays out the compromise:

First of all there are 12 states that have banned abortion in public plans and there are 5 states that have banned abortion in both private and public plans. We wanted to make sure in this legislation that it was clear that there was no preemption of the right of states to continue to make those bans.

Watch Nelson explain how the funds would be segregated:

“My chief of staff and I basically developed this idea…We already agreed how to account for the money, the premium dollars so finding then the mechanism for coverage was the next. And this we just stumbled on to,” Nelson admitted before confirming that abortion was the last unresolved issue.